Taking Note of a Few Things, Episode 8: Perfectamundo

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I figure Clayton Kershaw is a great starting point for this episode. Last year, his season ended with an elbow issue that commonly requires surgery that comes with a lost season. Kershaw’s contract was also over which left him as a free agent. A 34-year-old pitcher past his prime with a bum elbow is not going to receive many offers. Kershaw opted against surgery and instead bet on himself by having platelet rich plasma injected into his elbow. He followed it up with rest for the entire winter.

In his first start of the season, Kershaw looked better than ever and tossed seven innings of perfect ball. Twenty-one batters faced him and all 21 never made it to first base. A movie script performance was unfolding about a pitcher who signed a one-year deal with the only team he played for because it seemed he was washed up. All he needed was two more innings and a possible perfect game would place him in the record books.

Unfortunately, Kershaw was pulled from the game. He’d thrown a grand total of 80 pitches to 21 batters (do the math) and that was five more than he was scheduled to throw. His game and shot at immortality were over.

Kershaw’s manager (Dave Roberts) will always be blasted for what he did, but it was the smart decision to make. That’s what leaders are supposed to do, make decisions that are unpopular, but are for the good of others.

Hollywood actually made this film in 1999. For Love of the Game starring Kevin Costner returning after a gruesome hand injury to pitch a no hitter in his final game of his career. It’s one of my favorite Costner films.

I once tossed a no hitter.I was in 6th grade and could throw serious heat for a kid. I went undefeated that season while my coach had me throw the maximum number of innings allowed by league rules. I ate it up because for the first time since I began playing little league, we not only had a winning team, but we also finished in first place.

A year later, my elbow was shot and never the same. It would have been nice to have a coach who cared a little less about winning with 6th graders and more about our future. The funny thing is my seventh-grade coach was happy to have me and my arm on his team the following year. As soon as I mentioned my sore elbow to him, he shut me down for the entire season. He said he’d rather see my arm get better than risk more damage just to win games.

I remember all the coaches I ever had. They fell into two categories: good or bad. There was no in between. My good coaches rarely ever mentioned winning or losing and focused on growth and improvement as a team. The bad ones were the opposite.

Dodgers P Julio Urías is one of the new starters making a splash in the league (Claudia Gestro)

In college, I had a horrible human as an assistant coach on our soccer team. Once, after one of over twenty-five losses that season, he kept me and two other goalkeepers after a game he blamed the loss on us for. I should mention, I did not even play in the game and was the team’s emergency goalkeeper while also playing midfielder but was tossed in with the other two. He wanted to run us through “drill” work, which was code for punishment.

One drill had us diving over another keeper who was down on all fours while the coach tossed balls toward the goal. We were to dive over the player and catch the ball in the air before crashing to the ground. Each had to make ten saves in a row without any misses for the group to be dismissed. On my eighth save, I came down and separated my shoulder and laid in pain on the ground. The coach thought I was faking it and began screaming at me to get up. Then he began kicking soccer balls at me while still screaming. It took the head coach to see what was happening and run out to physically stop him.

Four days later, I was back at practice. I asked my head coach to let me play midfielder and to make sure I was placed on the opposite squad that our assistant coach scrimmaged on. He obliged and for the next hour I employed every dirty tactic I could dream up to try and break the guy’s leg. After one hard tackle, I mimicked his words he said to me, “Get up, get up, you’re not really hurt. Get up.”

Isn’t it nice of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard to air their dirty laundry in public? Just goes to show how so many celebs live by the saying, “The only bad publicity is no publicity at all.”

By the way, my favorite Kevin Costner film is Open Range with Robert Duval and Annette Benning. It’s a beautiful film to watch with amazing cinematography. It incorporates good versus bad like all good westerns as well as a love story. The only change I would have made to it was the use of slow motion in one part of a shootout.

Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall in “Open Range”
Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

My favorite western is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. You either love it or hate it.

Deliverance was not a western, but another film you either love or hate.

It appears sexually transmitted infections increased during COVID’s lockdown. Maybe wearing a mask was not as much of a turn off as having to wear a condom.

Last week, my wife and I took our four dogs in for their annual checkups. We escaped with a bill under $500.00. If you have a mutt and been to the vet, you know that was a good day for us.

I once spent over four grand to figure out what was wrong with my dog Peanut. Turned out the little brown mutt had what is known as white shaker syndrome. After that much for a diagnosis, the good news was it was treatable.

Peanut Awakens (James Moore)

Peanut used to see a veterinarian neurologist who after one exam described him as a brat. She was being kind. He became well known for his behavior at the hospital he used to go to. Each visit saw a different, and we assumed new, vet tech assigned to deal with him. Let’s just say more than one checked his chart to make sure he was up to date with his rabies vaccine after getting bit by him.

We used to arrive early to his appointments and walk him around the neighborhood. The best way to describe him was to picture a dog in the role of John Travolta while he walked the streets of New York in the opening of Saturday Night Fever.

Steven Seagal recently celebrated his 70th birthday in Moscow and kissed Putin’s ass. “The only bad publicity is no publicity at all.”

I am a lifelong runner, and I can tell you no one in the history of mankind has ever run like Steven Seagal does in his films.

The RNC has dropped out of the debates that have been run by the League of Women Voters. In their place, they have decided to join the League of White Male Voters debates. Instead of being asked serious questions and forced to defend their records, Republican candidates will just be given equal time to hurl insults and false accusations while a chimp hits a buzzer when their time is up.

Senator Dianne Feinstein has come under fire by many people who claim she suffers from memory lapses and has a penchant for falling asleep during meetings. She has been a senator for California since 1992 and is currently 88 years old.  Feinstein is 25 years older than me, and I forget things more than I like and fall asleep at 9am after I have had two cups of coffee and a morning run.

In the past, whenever a doctor has sent me to get a test or scan, it never concerned me. Usually, it is for something joint related and results in either physical therapy or arthroscopic surgery. Next up on my “to see” list is a neurologist for scans of my brain. Considering both of my parents died of a form of dementia (my mom’s was Lewy Body and dad’s was Alzheimer’s), and the trauma my head suffered in an accident 15 years ago, I will be sweating bullets waiting for the results.

Recently, the city I live in passed an ordinance that allows the use of sprinklers only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This was welcomed news for me because one of the previous days I was allowed to water was Friday, the same day a weekly paper, The Acorn, was delivered to our home. The problem was, instead of hitting our driveway, all too often it was tossed onto our lawn only to get soaked. Other days, it was nowhere to be found so Peanut and I would have to take off on our morning walk and look for one delivered to a vacant home. The new watering ordinance solved most of our issues with the paper because when it arrived, it would at least be dry.

Unfortunately, about three weeks into enjoying our dry weekly paper, The Acorn announced it was changing their delivery day from Friday to Saturday. I am hoping they changed the people who toss the paper so mine will arrive on my driveway.

I was listening to The Who this morning while working out. Eminence Front was playing which brought me right back to my days in college and the studio apartment I lived in at the time it came out. It then made me think of how much The Who grew musically from their beginnings in the mid 60’s. They do not receive enough credit for their amazing contribution to classic rock.

A band I overlooked when I was younger were The Allman Brothers. Such a cohesive group of musicians who gave everyone in the band a chance to shine in almost every one of their songs.

It’s nice to have a president who freely releases his tax statements for the public to see. It may seem like a small matter, but anyone who fights as much as Trump does over the release of his taxes and financial dealings can only be hiding something from the public. He seems to do that about a lot of other things.

Recently, A South Carolina prisoner chose to be executed by firing squad rather than by the electric chair. If I was faced with the same choice, I would make the same decision. The chances of an electric chair malfunctioning and causing a painful death are much greater than a few marksmen missing a target on my chest.

The death penalty makes no sense. Financially speaking, it costs more to execute a prisoner than house them until he dies. Morally, if killing is against the law, surely it is wrong to kill as a punishment. It’s also unfair to the victim’s family who must wait years while the wheels of justice slowly play out before the killer of their loved one is executed. Life in prison without possibility of parole seems more just to me.

Killing someone because they killed someone else is an act of vengeance and not justice. Vengeance is an act outside of the law and you do not have justice when it is the state that enacts vengeance. Individuals who kill someone in response to that person having killed someone are held accountable by the law. Our system of justice can do better than resorting to the use of killing.

Do prisons still offer prisoners a final meal? If so, put me down for a couple of thick and juicy cheeseburgers with fries and a chocolate shake. For dessert, I will take a large brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and then call it a life.

Then again, if I was set to be put to death at midnight, I might not have much of an appetite. It’s kind of hard to enjoy a good meal knowing the next thing you have to look forward to is being put to death.

This morning, I finally achieved my goal of running for 60 minutes. Half of that time was spent running laps on the grass at the parks and rec headquarters. Next door is an elementary school with plenty of grass too, but like all other schools today, it is locked up like a fortress. As a kid, we had free access to all the schools on weekends. Many afternoons were spent on the field at Happy Valley School playing tackle football.

Schools are locked up for a few sad reasons. First, they fear being sued if someone is injured playing on their campus after hours. They also are easy targets for vandalism like graffiti. Finally, they fear a nut will place an explosive device to detonate during school hours or hide and wait to shoot up the place. We have not advanced as a society when you look at why schools are locked up on weekends.

I worked for a wonderful superintendent in Red Bluff named Mary Panucci. She made sure there was a crew that started work on campus in the early morning hours every day of the week. Their job was to paint over any graffiti, replace any burned trash cans, and repair any other damages done by misguided teens.When I noticed the crew at work while running early in the morning, I made a point of asking Mary why they started so early. She said she was aware teens target high schools for pranks and vandalism. However, she wasn’t going to let her students see the results of it. Instead, she wanted them to arrive to a school that was always a kept clean and presentable.

As humans, we don’t take as much time to consider what might be wrong with the clean and presentable. It’s the disheveled who draw our attention for needing help. Most people who are suffering from depression — or other issues — find that if they keep up their appearance, no one will bother them. We need to take the time to bother more people and check in on how they are doing.

Underwear and socks are all we really need
(Tim Forkes)

In closing, when life becomes a bit stagnate, do what I do and go out and buy new socks and underwear. On the outside, you’ll look like your same old self, but inside, you will feel like a new person. Go ahead and give it a try.